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Josh and Carolyn Answer Your Questions

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A man and woman clicking their coffee cups together in cheers.

Homesteading can be a great adventure, but it can also present its fair share of challenges and a whole lot of questions!   

In this episode of Pantry Chat, Josh and Carolyn have fun trying to answer some of your questions on everything from pressure canning beef stew to best practices for storing ancient eggnog, how to select the right wood cookstove, and so much more! 

In this Episode

  • Josh and Carolyn are hard at work planning new content for 2021.  
  • Carolyn is hosting a sourdough challenge on January 16th that will be inside the bread class, and there will be a best price of 2021 for people who want to join. More details are coming soon. 
  • Carolyn made 16 pies this year for Thanksgiving, and they finished them all off! (Here’s her pie crust recipe and pumpkin pie recipe!)
  • Josh had a custom rack made for Carolyn to hold all of their cheese wheels, and in the interim, they used it to store all their pies for Thanksgiving. (Here are some of Homesteading Family’s Thanksgiving traditions
  • There’s an energy shift happening in the house due to the kids wanting to be more inside instead of out, and it requires a lot more time management for Carolyn. (Check out Carolyn’s Home Management series on YouTube.)
  • Josh cooked two medium-sized turkeys for Thanksgiving and had fun doing the rotisserie version, which he highly recommends! 
  • Bud asks about making homemade eggnog, “Is it OK to pour out some of the stored egg and alcohol mixture to make smaller batches of eggnog, then put the remaining mixture back into storage without ruining it?” 
  • For this season, was Josh able to create as much compost as he needed, or did he have to supplement it in other ways? 
  • Michelle asks, “Is there a way to take your pie pumpkins and turn them into a pumpkin spiced power that you can use in your coffee?”  
  • Rachel asks, “Could you buy astragalus in a pill form to take daily to boost your immune system?” 
  • Josh recommends “Food, Inc” as an excellent documentary to motivate you to start raising your own meat or start looking for a local producer. “Indigestible” is another one on his watch list that he hasn’t seen yet.  
  • SweetPotager asks, “If you have a rooster in the coop that has fertilized the other eggs, is it still safe to leave them on the counter, unwashed for weeks?” (Click here for the best way to handle farm fresh eggs.)
  • A FB user asks, “If I bought a wood cooking stove that was newly manufactured and properly maintained, how long should it last?” (Here are our woodstove tips and woodstove cooking basics.) 
  • What’s the best way to pressure can beef stew, and how many jars should it take?”  
  • For a refresh on the top mistakes people make with canning, read the blog post, or watch the video. 
  • A FB user asks Josh, “How wide are your walking paths in the garden for laying down compost with the BCS tractor?” 
  • Betty asks about canning beef stew, “When you pressure can the beef and veggies together do they get mushy, and what is the right cooking time for the stew?”  


More Pantry Chat Episodes

Josh: Hey guys, this is Josh.

Carolyn: And Carolyn.

Josh: With Homesteading Family. And welcome to this week's episode of the Pantry Chat Food for Thought.

Carolyn: This week, we're going to be having a little fun and answering some of your questions. This episode of the Pantry Chat podcast is sponsored by MadeOn Skincare. MadeOn specializes in skincare specifically for dry skin, and they use as few ingredients as possible to get the job done. You guys, this is the type of skincare I would make myself if I had time to make it in my own home. And the great thing is, Renee even shares her exact recipes with you. The Bee Silk lotion bar is my go-to lotion when my hands get dry and cracked, and it's only made with three ingredients. Renee created it when she needed something to fix the splits in her fingers, cracks in her feet, and then she found out that it also worked great on her son's seasonal eczema. Go to to find out what Josh's favorite MadeOn products are, and also use the code Homesteading Family for 15% off today's purchase.

Josh: Well, hey, you guys. And Kind of welcome back. It's been a few weeks since we have filmed a fresh Pantry Chat.

Carolyn: Yeah. If you've been listening in on the podcast, then you'll know we've been re-airing some of the older episodes of the Pantry Chat on the podcast, but we've been kind of missing.

Josh: Yeah, we have been. And we're a little off our stride. And even today, we're just going to have a little fun and catch you all up a little bit and answer some questions, have a good time. It's been a busy season with Thanksgiving coming on and just the year that we've had. We just needed to take a little time off, take a break. And now we're going to ease through December here before we hit the new year.

Carolyn: Something exciting that we've been working on in the backdrop and are continuing to work on in the backdrop is planning for next year's videos that are coming out, which is a lot of fun to think ahead to next year and all of the great stuff, all the great videos and content and podcast episodes, all sorts of things that we're going to be sharing.

Josh: Absolutely. And if you guys from the YouTube side of things content want to drop us a line in what you would be interested in learning about this year to help us fill that out, go ahead and do that. You can leave that in the comments, and we will collect those and just take some of those ideas in.

Carolyn: Absolutely. And as always, we haven't said this for awhile, but anytime that you want to write a review, give a star, couple of stars, give thumbs up, like a video, make a comment, any of those things, that always helps us out. It always spreads the word a little bit further and introduces some new people to our channel.

Josh: Which helps us keep going and keep showing up for work every day.

Carolyn: All the time.

Josh: Hey, one of the things in that planning is a new master class in 2021. Is that something we're ready to reveal yet? Or just that one's coming? One is coming. We can reveal that.

Carolyn: One is coming, yeah.

Josh: We can tell you that, a new class. Very excited about that.

Carolyn: That's really exciting. It's a lot of fun to film those, a lot of fun to get to interact with you guys in a whole different way inside of an actual class. Right now, we've got a class on herbalism. We have our-

Josh: Master-

Carolyn: Master bread class and-

Josh: Master canning.

Carolyn: The canning class out. And so it's kind of exciting to be adding to that collection. I'm excited. I think we're going to build up a little more suspense before we release it-

Josh: Yeah, yeah, not quite there yet.

Carolyn: But I do want to say something else that we can talk a little bit more about, and that is that in mid-January, on the 16th, we're going to be doing a sourdough challenge. And I am getting so excited about that. That'll be inside the bread class, and that's going to go right along with a best price of 2021 to get into that bread class.

Josh: That master class, yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah, and so that is going to be a lot of fun. Keep your eyes out for more information on that. It'll start coming out in the next couple of weeks.

Josh: Yeah. And that sourdough class isn't just, if I remember it right, not just this challenge, not just on whole wheat sourdough, but I think you guys are going to be doing some-

Carolyn: Oh, we do-

Josh: Ancient grains.

Carolyn: Ancient grains.

Josh: Put some gluten-free in there.

Carolyn: We do.

Josh: Gluten-free sourdough.

Carolyn: Gluten-free sourdough startup. And then we bake with it. And not just bread, but bread and goodies and all sorts of things that you want in your house. It is so much fun. There are hundreds of people who are already ready to be in the challenge, already signed up and excited about it. And so kind of through special, if you're already a student of the bread class, you have access to that. So it's going to be a really fun, amazing challenge with a lot of people all working on the same thing, helping each other out, sharing their successes and their failures. And it just is a great group of people going through. So I'm really excited. And if you want to be part of that, just keep your ears out. If you're on our email list, you'll definitely get information about it there.

Josh: Yep. Right on. Well, I guess we should just catch everybody up a little bit. It's been a few weeks. And so what's going on with you?

Carolyn: Oh, well, of course, we have Thanksgiving around here, which for us requires a lot of cooking, even just for our own family, but of course we love getting to visit with family and friends. But to have a feast like Thanksgiving takes a lot of cooking, and we have this Thanksgiving tradition. Did you guys watch that video or listen to that episode that came out a week or two ago about the Thanksgiving tradition of the pie, the pie for breakfast.

Josh: Love the pie.

Carolyn: So if you didn't catch that, every year we make a lot of extra pies because Josh loves getting to have pie for breakfast-

Josh: Oh yeah.

Carolyn: As many days after Thanksgiving as possible.

Josh: Oh yeah.

Carolyn: So it's kind of a thing in our house. This year I think we made 16 pies. It was a lot of pies.

Josh: I think we actually had a hard time getting through them this year.

Carolyn: We polished them off the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Josh: Well, that's good. That's perfect, yeah.

Carolyn: And that was good.

Josh: You don't want to stretch it out too long. Might be putting on a few extra pounds if you do that.

Carolyn: Right, yeah. Well, I judiciously opt out of some of the pie eating in the morning just for that reason, but-

Josh: Not the teenagers and I.

Carolyn: No, no. But this year was really neat because I don't think we've even shared a photo of this anywhere, but you had made, custom made, a cheese rack for the pantry. Now, our pantry is kind of on an exterior wall of the house. And so we're able to open multiple windows. And when it's as cold as it is outside right now-

Josh: Pretty much a refrigerator, walk-in fridge.

Carolyn: It's, yeah, pretty much a walk-in refrigerator, maybe a little bit warmer. And so to hold all of the hard cheese that my daughter, Rachel, and I are making... Our daughter. That sounded kind of funny, my daughter... we needed a rack, a place to put it. So you had this amazing rack made that probably would hold 20 large wheels of cheese, I would guess.

Josh: Five pound wheels, yeah.

Carolyn: Five pound wheels of cheese.

Josh: I think that was the goal.

Carolyn: Now, we just got that the other day, so we haven't even started filling it up. We have one round of cheese sitting on it right now. And so it became the perfect pie rack. I couldn't have ordered a better pie rack.

Josh: I'm going to make a few more of those. Yeah, I think there's going to need to be a few more of those after seeing that.

Carolyn: We had it completely filled with pies, and it was so amazing. And having that room are cool. We had extra storage space. So it was kind of a fun win on the homestead because stacking pies on each other doesn't work well. So yeah, so I've been doing a lot of cooking. Of course, just the regular stuff that happens in the fall around the homestead. Once we're inside, there's this energy shift that happens when the kids go from they can be outside for all of their free time to the kind of want to be inside because the weather's just not nice. We're kind of getting this fall time where it's not just nice, fluffy snow coming out of the sky. A lot of times it's rain or icy or just not very nice. And the energy changes in the house. As you can probably imagine with 10 kids in our house, it gets loud.

Josh: It goes up, down, sideways, every which way.

Carolyn: And it actually requires a lot more management. So I feel like I've been dealing with that seasonal shift quite a bit lately, seasonal shift in energy.

Josh: Oh, you do good, though. You get them outside when the weather's good. And you got to be a little bit hardy up here in North Idaho, and the kids really are. And so they get out. We've got snow on the ground, and they still go out when it's not really wet or cold, get out there and play around and sled and have a good time.

Carolyn: So what about you? What have you been up to?

Josh: Wow. Well, with that Thanksgiving weeks, same with you, we cooked two turkeys. I had a lot of fun doing the rotisserie turkey. If you guys have never done a rotisserie... I know a lot of people, oven baking is obviously standard. A lot of people like to do some form of deep frying. And I think people think of turkeys as being too big to rotisserie. And if you're getting like a 20-pound turkey or something, that's pretty big. That would be tough to do, unless you've got a special setup, but 15 pounds or so we can do on our regular barbecue rotisserie turkey. We've done this a few years with turkeys or a goose. And so I love the rotisserie turkey. If you guys haven't tried that, try that some year for Thanksgiving-

Carolyn: It's very good.

Josh: Or Christmas dinner or whatever. Very, very good. A lot of fun.

Carolyn: So the one downfall to that is you don't catch the drippings for the gravy.

Josh: You're right. You don't. But we had a second Turkey. So we did two medium-sized turkeys, which works out perfectly for our family.

Carolyn: Yeah, we caught the drippings from the oven-roasted one.

Josh: Yeah. But what I like about it is you can just baste constantly as it's turning.

Carolyn: On the rotisserie, yeah.

Josh: I do a butter, white wine baste, and oh man, that's so good.

Carolyn: It was so good. It was delicious.

Josh: Yeah. I got to take off a bit of time and hunt a bit-

Carolyn: Uh-huh (affirmative), did some hunting.

Josh: And actually didn't get anything this year. So it was a bummer.

Carolyn: But we did get one in the house, so that's good.

Josh: Yeah. Tristan got his buck and early on. Second time out he got his, so that was-

Carolyn: He got spoiled. Next year he's going to have to spend a couple of days hunting, and he'll be like-

Josh: We're going to have to give him back the open sites rifle.

Carolyn: Yeah, he got real spoiled.

Josh: [crosstalk 00:11:06] for that. Anyways, but I had a good time out just being in the woods and debriefing a little bit and-

Carolyn: Decompressing.

Josh: Decompressing a little bit, yeah. And yeah, saw a lot of deer. They were either jumping me and on top of me or too close to shoot without scaring them off, or they were a long ways off past my range. But yeah, it was nice to get out. And gosh, that's been it. We're just doing a lot of planning for next year. I feel like we're maybe diving in a little bit earlier this year than we usually do getting ready for next year, but it has been quite a year, and there's a lot to process and a lot to think about going forward into 2021, yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah, absolutely. So you want to answer some questions.

Josh: Want to dive into a few questions?

Carolyn: Yeah. I think so.

Josh: Sure. All righty.

Carolyn: That'd be great.

Josh: We've got a few here. All right. So Bud Craters, I think, on aged eggnog, part two. This is an older video. This is some of the best eggnog. It's a little late to get it started now, but check out that video if you haven't. I mean, it's a little late to get it started to be done for the holidays, but eggnog can be a great winter drink. Or check it out and get your plan together for next year. So Bud says, "Quick question. I'm using your recipe for the first time, and my egg and alcohol mixture has been sitting around in a dark, cool location for about five weeks as well." Let me just interject here. Just that video, I think that's Make Eggnog Like George Washington.

Carolyn: Yes.

Josh: [crosstalk 00:00:12:43]. And so it's a very historic, old recipe, the way they used to make it.

Carolyn: Well, and to be clear, it is actually a form of egg preservation because preserving things in enough alcohol makes it sterile. So it's not going to get bad bacteria. It's not going to get food poisoning elements or anything. So you can actually store eggs on your shelf at a cool room temperature if it's in enough alcohol, and then you can turn it into an amazing eggnog that has the most mellow flavor. It is so incredibly good.

Josh: Yeah. So check out that link, even if that's something you're not into. I know some of you aren't going to use that because it has alcohol in it, and that's cool, but just the history of where that comes from, because that is a historic preservation method. It's very cool. All right. So Bud goes on to say, "Is it okay to pour out some of the egg and alcohol mixture to make smaller batches of eggnog and then put the remaining egg and alcohol portion back into storage? Or must I refrigerate the egg and alcohol mixture after opening it up? Catch all that?

Carolyn: I did catch all that. So he wants to know if he can pour some off and if he can just recap it and stick it back on the shelf. And yes, you can. Just make sure you shake it up really well before you do that, because you want to make sure you keep that ratio of alcohol to egg the same. That is actually a scientifically-tested recipe that confirms that after two weeks, I think it is... Watch the video and double check it, but after two weeks, anything in your eggs, even when they put intentionally bad eggs or bad bacteria in the eggs, after two weeks it's totally sterilized. It's completely gone. So you just want to keep that ratio the same. So shake it really well first, pour off what you want, and then you can just cap it and stick it right back on your shelf.

Josh: Very cool.

Carolyn: Yeah, it is. I love those historical methods. I think they're a lot of fun.

Josh: Oh, I do too. And I'm looking forward to a little bit of that eggnog. Hey, let's see. You want to take this one?

Carolyn: Okay.

Josh: You want to read that?

Carolyn: This one down here.

Josh: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carolyn: Okay. Are you able yet to create as much compost as you need? Or did you have to supplement some again this year?

Josh: You know what? I love that question.

Carolyn: It's a given.

Josh: Because this is the first year that we made all of our compost on-site.

Carolyn: Yay.

Josh: [crosstalk 00:14:54]. We've got some systems up with the barn and the animals and the shavings. And yes, we made enough compost to... I actually mulched the garden this year with the compost. It was about 80% complete, which was great. So I'm using it as a mulch instead of the wood shavings, mostly because our season, even for living up here in North Idaho, this property we've been on for two years. We have two growing seasons now... it's just colder back in here. And it's a longer start. And so we need that soil to warm up faster. Anyways, so yeah, we did. And that is really, really exciting. We've got some systems now to do that every year, I think. We will not have to buy compost. And I haven't tested it biologically, but I I'm 90% sure this is going to be better than the compost we've been buying, which it's been good compost, but it's been not very biologically active. And that's just really, really important for the soil. So very excited. We are making it all. No supplement. Matter of fact, we even have leftover after doing all our fall preps for things that we need in the spring when things get going.

Carolyn: That is really like a mile marker on a homestead, when you start actually producing enough compost for your use, what you need for the year. That's like the mile marker for a child to being potty trained or learning how to read. It's a sign of maturing into your homestead because you're completing that circle, and you're taking your waste products, and you're creating something that you need out of it. And that makes your garden and your soil better. And doing things like that always gets me excited, just to see that circle get completed and we've got a system that's complete and running now. That's really neat.

Josh: Absolutely. That's a huge money saver as well. Like you said, we're recycling materials we've already purchased in the form of feed for the animal, shavings for the animals, tree trimmings, plant trimmings around the property, food waste. Usually that goes to the chickens or pigs first. But by this time of year with the pigs gone, it's just all going to go in the compost pile. But that is real savings because if we're buying compost... And I recommend the same thing for you guys. If you can't make enough combos buy the best you can. That's everything for your garden. And you don't want to scrimp on that. You want to do the best you can.

Carolyn: Yeah, yeah. Don't get [crosstalk 00:17:10] on your compost.

Josh: So if you're thinking about next year, yes, you really want to make sure that you do the best you can for your garden if you're serious about growing fruits and vegetables.

Carolyn: Good.

Josh: Okay. Let's get on to another question here from Michelle Barton Cox on An Intro to Dehydrating. I think that was a Pantry Chat we did not too long ago.

Carolyn: Yes. I think you're right.

Josh: "I noticed the pile of pie pumpkin's behind you. Do you think you could cook the pumpkins and then add pumpkin pie spices and sugar, then dehydrate it until it's brittle? Then you could run it through a blender. I'll bet you could put a spoonful of your pumpkin spice powder in a cup of coffee with some success." That's a really cool idea. What do you think about that?

Carolyn: Yes, you could definitely do that, except for I wouldn't add the sugar. And the reason is sugar makes things sticky when it dehydrates, if you have too much sugar. If you do sugar, go light. The same is true with honey or maple syrup or anything like that. It'll make it sticky and never dry. So it won't powder. So for the best results, I'd just leave that out and add that separately. Or once it's dry and in powder form, mix some dry sugar into that powder mix. But yes, you can definitely do that. And you can get really creative and have a lot of fun with dehydrating things and turning them into powders. And think about that, an additional spoonful of something like that into sweet sweetbreads. There are just so many things that you could do with that. It's a lot of fun to think about.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: You know what? You could even do that and then rehydrate a little bit at a time as a pumpkin butter, which would be fun to spread on toast. So kind of like a different way to preserve a pumpkin butter rather than canning it.

Josh: Wow.

Carolyn: So you can do a lot of fun things with it. I think it's a great idea.

Josh: Sounds really good. All right. Beautiful T. Rachel on How to Boost Your Immune System. "Could you buy astragalus in the pill form to take daily?"

Carolyn: Yes. Astragalus would be a really good candidate for taking it in like a capsule form. If an herb is a tonic herb, so it's something that's mild-acting, but it's going to boost your system overall, usually those are really good herbs to take in capsule form. The herbs that are really best for quick-acting on your system and to make a powerful change on your system, it's really best if you actually start their journey on your tongue because your body wakes up like oh wow, it's here. I can taste it. And that digestion starts in your mouth. So it kind of gets your body prepped for it. But because that astragalus is such a gentle herb, it's fine to just go ahead. If you put it in your mouth, it tastes almost like nothing anyways. So it's not really going to do much for it by starting it in your mouth. So if you prefer, taking it in pill form would be a great way to go.

Josh: Cool. Right on. Let's see. You want to take this one?

Carolyn: Okay. Lauren [Palenini 00:20:19] on Meat Chickens on the Homestead-

Josh: Hey, Lauren.

Carolyn: Asks, "Hey, I just recently found your channel, and I'm catching up. Josh mentioned that he watched some documentaries on commercial meat farming methods. Could you share what those are? My husband and I are trying to get away from commercially-raised meat and would love more info." Great question.

Josh: That is a great question. And it's been a while since we've dove into the documentaries, but yes, we watched some. And one of the classic ones is Food, Inc. That's a great place to start. And if that doesn't motivate you to either start raising your own meat or finding a local producer that's producing their meat well, sustainably, ethically, I don't know what will. So that's just a great place to start. There's a lot out there. A lot of them are coming from the vegetarian angle. So you got to decide about that. One that I see here that's a new one that I would like to watch... We haven't seen it, but that looks good... is called Indigestible. And that's a new documentary about factory farms, and the write-up on that looks pretty good. So that's one that's on our list to see that looks a little more recent. Really, if you just Google it out there, there's a ton out there, and you just got to sift through them. Like I said, some of them are very pro-vegetarianism, which obviously, that's not our stance. I mean, that's cool if that's what you want to do, but we're not looking to make an argument against meat. So Food, Inc. is a great place to start and then see what else is going on.

Carolyn: And hey, if you're watching this Pantry Chat on YouTube and you know of some good documentaries, please go ahead and put them in the comments below to help out other people who might be looking, and we'll learn too. We'll enjoy seeing some recommendations on good videos, because we'd love to hear what you guys have seen and have appreciated and learned from.

Josh: Absolutely. And just really want to encourage you on that journey. It has been so rewarding. We actually started a lot of our homesteading journey when it comes to raising things, was the focus on meat and raising meat. That was the resources we had. We had access to land that we could raise cattle on and sheep. And that has been a great journey. And I'm so thankful that we've done that.

Carolyn: Well, and I think it's a really important when you think about toxicity collection in bodies, meat is a top line collector, right?

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: You've got your plants, and then the animals eat the plants, and so you kind of compound the toxicity by the time you get up to animals. So when you're looking to change your diet and to move to a cleaner diet, starting with those animal products is actually a really powerful way to go. That would include any fats, things like your dairy, eggs, and of course the meat. And cleaning those things up is where you're actually going to see a faster change physically in your own body than just going, to say organic vegetables or something like that.

Josh: Very good.

Carolyn: So yeah, it's really a good place to start a journey.

Josh: Cool. All right. Sweet Potager.

Carolyn: Potager.

Josh: Potager. I'm sorry. There's no accent.

Carolyn: Potager. French. Potager.

Josh: Sweet Potager. I'm sorry.

Carolyn: There you go.

Josh: Sweet Potager Gardening on How to Handle Farm Fresh Eggs. "Hi there. Great video. I have a question about eggs and roosters. What if there is a rooster in the coop, and he may have fertilized the eggs?" You can be sure that he probably has. "Do I still leave them on the counter unwashed for weeks at a time?"

Carolyn: So if he hasn't fertilized the eggs, it's time for a new rooster, is all I'm going to say there. But yes, you still can. Unless you are heating them, they should not start to develop, and they should be just fine. What you really want to watch for is that you're collecting those eggs every day from the coop, because you don't want a chicken to start setting a fertilized egg and then bring it in in any form, whether it goes in the refrigerator or on the counter, because then that doesn't get pleasant.

Josh: Be careful about opening that one.

Carolyn: Yeah, yeah.

Josh: We've never had that happen.

Carolyn: Yeah, so when you have kids collecting eggs, you have all sorts of mishaps in the kitchen. So one trick that I did learn, though, for those of you who have also had that happen, is to always crack your eggs into a separate small bowl. And that is just good practice with any farm fresh egg period, because they do occasionally get missed. Occasionally something gets snuck off to the side, and you don't find it for a few days. So crack them into a separate bowl before you add them to whatever it is you're adding them to. But as far as storage goes, they should be just fine. Just make sure you don't wash them and you don't keep them heated, like incubated heated.

Josh: Right. Okay. Let's see. We'll hit this one, and then you can hit that one afterwards. Samantha Sullivan on Can't Find Canning Supplies? That's been a challenge this year at times, for sure. "Wait," she says. "The whole reason you take the rings off is because if it's a bad seal, the lid will pop." Take note of that statement. "If it's a whole ring with threads on the jar, that won't happen."

Carolyn: Oh yeah. No, that's not true. Your lid will still pop. It'll come unsealed. You have to. If you have your rings tightened down so tight that air cannot escape from it, you will ruin your lids in the canner. It causes buckling, where it buckles up, because you got to realize when you're canning something, the steam is getting pushed out from inside the jar out of that lid. So that's why you only want to get it finger tight. You don't want to crank it on there. That's not because you might not be able to get it off. It's because if you do that, the steam can't escape properly, and it will actually buckle your lids up because of the pressure inside, which of course means you won't get a proper seal. So no, your jars will come unsealed even with the rings on if you have a bad seal. The problem with leaving the rings on is that you can get what's called a false seal. And I think we actually covered that really, really in depth in that video, Five Canning Mistakes You Shouldn't Make. It's called something like that. We did that maybe last summer.

Josh: We'll get you a link to that here in the description maybe at the end of the video.

Carolyn: I really went into detail about the importance of that and how that works and kind of the science behind it. So if what I'm saying right now is causing question marks in your mind, go watch that video, and you should get your answers.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: Okay. So Rhythm Cons on How to Fire and Use a Wood Cookstove, asks, "How long will a wood cookstove like this last? I know that some have stoves from companies that quit making them in the 1930s, but if I bought one that was newly manufactured and properly maintained, is this a 30-year product? Or would one have to replace it after 15 years or something?"

Josh: All right. Well, there's a lot to that question. And first off, you're on the right track. If you can buy one that's newly manufactured and properly maintained, just meaning it's in good shape, that's great. It is going to work better for you. You can find older stoves. You got to be really careful about the older stoves and how they've been used. Sometimes you can't see where they've been damaged and what the seal is. And with the older stoves, most of them just aren't as efficient. They just don't seal off as well. So the newer the stove, you're just going to have better technology, and you're going to have better wood-burning efficiency and collection of your heat and use all the way around. So that's a good track to be on. And then certainly if it is used, watch out for that proper maintenance and that it is in really good shape.

Josh: Now, as far as how long a given stove's going to last, there's a ton of stoves. I mean, there's lots of manufacturers. There's low-end ones. There's very high-end ones. Really, if you're taking good care of it and maintaining it properly, like you mentioned, not over firing it... If you over fire it, you're going to heat any stove up, even a high-quality stove if you over fire it regularly, and you're going to warp it, and you're going to cause problems. So yes, it all comes down to how you're using it and how you're taking care of it. That said, if you're using it well and taking good care of it, a high-end stove should be something you could pass down and probably even a lot of your mid-range stoves. I can't speak to everyone because there's a lot of different quality out there. So buy a good stove, at least a mid-range. And if you take care of it, they're meant to last a very long time. All righty. [Rayona 00:29:03] [Borer 00:29:05], I think, on How to Pressure Can Beef Stew. "How many jars do you use to feed your family?" I think she's talking about per meal.

Carolyn: Yes.

Josh: That's what it looks like.

Carolyn: Yeah, That's what I would assume that she's saying. So this was a great video that we just released. We had an earlier version of this video out, and we actually had some problems with it. So we redid it for you guys, and we re-released it just in the last month, I think. And if you want the written directions that go along with that video, there is a written direction portion, a blog posts with, I think, a printable recipe on it with directions over at our blog. So we'll share that link down in the description. But it depends on how I use it, how many jars it takes. So I can in quart jars for our family. We have a large family. We have 13 people at our meal table every time we eat, sometimes more. So if I'm literally using it as a bowl of beef stew, usually that takes four quarts a gallon for us to get through a meal.

Carolyn: If I, say put it over noodles... Or you know what's really amazing? Is serv it over mashed potatoes... is so good and then, say have a large salad and some fresh sourdough bread on the side with butter, then I can easily get away with three jars. And if I have to, I can stretch with two. But everybody gets as much as they want to eat if I have three jars with a padded meal like that. So it kind of just depends on how I'm using it. And then if it's a lunch, I always serve less than I do at a dinner. So even just for stew at lunch, I would probably just do three jars. And we have snacks in the afternoon if somebody's still hungry.

Josh: Wow, four jars a gallon of beef stew to-

Carolyn: For a meal, yeah.

Josh: Feed the family.

Carolyn: And a lot of times, we have a little bit of leftovers for lunch the next day. So I'm not going to say we eat it all all the time, but the older the children get, the more we're eating every meal. Isn't that funny how that happens?

Josh: And if our life looks food centric, it is.

Carolyn: It is.

Josh: There's a big reason for that.

Carolyn: That's pretty funny.

Josh: We wouldn't have it any other way. All righty.

Carolyn: Okay. So this is a reply to a question on Facebook from a post where you were putting down compost with the BCS three-wheel tractor, two-wheel tractor. Sorry.

Josh: Two-wheel tractor, yeah.

Carolyn: So I don't know where the three came from. And somebody asks, "How wide are your walking paths in the garden? Your beds are 30 inches wide?" It's a question.

Josh: Right. Okay. Well, first, yeah, that was laying down compost with the BCS, the two-wheel tractor. And we got a compost spreader for it this year because we've got so much area to cover. And I got to tell you, the BCS, it's not an inexpensive piece of equipment, but if you are seriously relying on growing your own food and needing to manage a small piece of property, it is a tool that is very, very worthwhile. It's literally a mini tractor that you can have a lot of different attachments for and get a lot of different work done for. And so we've started to lay down our compost with this compost spreader, and oh, that's just awesome.

Carolyn: It was kind of a game changer, wasn't it?

Josh: It was a game changer this year. I mean, we've done it, we can do it no problem with wheelbarrows. And in fact, in our bean tunnels, we've still got to do it with wheelbarrows because the BCS won't get in there. but for the amount that we're doing... And we're going to be extending our gardens next year because of the size of the family and what we're doing, we're really operating on a market garden level, and we need those efficiencies. If you've got a small piece of property, this tractor also mows and hedges and snow blows and chips and does all kinds of things. So again, if you're not big enough for like a regular tractor, this is a great in-between piece of equipment that just serves a lot, a lot of needs. But it does shape the size of our growing beds, because you're very right. Our growing beds are 30 inches, and our paths are 18 inches. Now, the reason the paths are 18 inches is because you need to really be able to get a wheelbarrow down those paths. You need a little bit of room to work. It'd be nice to have a little smaller path and get a little more growing space. But that 18 inches is what makes it comfortable to work, get a wheelbarrow down, also to squat down in that path when you're reaching into your rows and harvesting without damaging or whatever the crop is behind you.

Josh: And the 30 inches is mostly because we're working with the BCS system, and that's a common market garden width, and that's what that works with. If you're going to use a machine like that, you want the 30 inches. It's very easy to reach into, but then it also works with this machinery. If you don't and you're doing things by hand and you want to maximize space, you can go up to a 36-inch bed. Then you're going to get a more growing space within whatever your total square footage is of your garden. And that's still pretty easy to work into. You don't want to go a lot wider than 36 inches for these raised beds, unless you're very tall, because you want to make it easy. You want to make it easy for your body to do that work. And so when you're kneeling down or squatting, you want to be able to reach into the center of the row very easily.

Carolyn: Good.

Josh: Yeah. Okay. So I think we've got time for one more question here. And we will cap it with another beef stew question. Betty Hubbard on How to Can Beef Stew. "When you can the beef and vegetables together, do the vegetables get mushy?" That was actually one question. And then, "Are you cooking it at 75 minutes or 90 minutes?" Two questions there.

Carolyn: Okay. So they get soft just like the meat, but I would not say they get mushy. They're actually very nicely cooked in a stew. We have really enjoyed it. So it's just like a really nicely-cooked stew that you do on your stove top. So I like that. And then the different times, I'm not sitting in front of the recipe, and I'm not recalling right now, but I believe that that pint jars of stew are canned for the 75 minutes and the quart jars are at the 90 minutes. So it depends on the size of your jar as to which time I'm doing it. I always can it in quarts, and so I'm always doing the 90-minute time.

Josh: Very, very cool. Well, hey, that is about it for today. It has been great to be back here, great to hang out with you here. Great to hang out with you guys. We're going to be a little loose and freeform over the rest of December, but we're going to show up. We're going to be here with you, and we hope you guys are just enjoying the holiday season here between Thanksgiving and Christmas, that you're able to take a break, relax, hopefully just decompress a little bit. Its been just a big, tough year for everybody, and so we just hope you're doing well and that you have a good season, and we will see you soon.

Josh: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Pantry Chat Food For Thought. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review.

Carolyn: To view the show notes and any other resources mentioned on this episode, you can learn more at

Josh: We'll see you soon.

Carolyn: Goodbye.

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